With about 20 games left in the regular season, some of Major League Baseball’s playoff races look set to go down to the wire.
The New York Mets have a 1½-game lead in the National League East entering Monday, pulling back two games in the days after they lost possession of first place after nearly five months on top. The Atlanta Braves have gone since 64-26 – a 115-win pace – since June 1 and managed to briefly overtake the Mets on Friday, before losing the last two of their weekend series in Seattle.
HOME RUN RACE: Mark McGwire thinks Judge will pass Bonds some day
NEWSLETTER: Get the latest sports news straight to your inbox
The AL Central race has also gotten more interesting, with the Cleveland Guardians holding a 2½-game advantage over the second-place Chicago White Sox, who have won seven of 10 – while the Minnesota Twins have fallen to third by losing eight of 10.
Here’s how USA TODAY Sports’ eight-person panel voted this week:
Rank (movement from last week)
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (–)
- LA should clinch its eighth division title in nine years this week.
2. Houston Astros (–)
- Lefty Will Smith has a 2.63 ERA in 15 appearances since joining Houston.
3. Atlanta Braves (+1)
- Spencer Strider’s 13.65 K/9 is the best mark of any pitcher with at least 60 innings.
4. New York Mets (-1)
- Fell out of first place for the first time since April 12 – but found themselves 1½ games up two days later.
5. New York Yankees (+1)
- Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and Harrison Bader all set to begin rehab assignments.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (-1)
- Entering Sunday, St. Louis was 47-24 at home and 35-34 on the road.
7. Tampa Bay Rays (–)
- Shortstop Wander Franco returns after two months on the injured list.
8. Toronto Blue Jays (+1)
- Eight games in seven days this week against AL wild-card rivals Tampa Bay and Baltimore.
9. Seattle Mariners (-1)
- Seattle’s starters had a 1.95 ERA in the first nine games of September.
10. Philadelphia Phillies (+1)
- JT Realmuto is the fifth catcher in history with a 15 homer, 15 steal season.
11. San Diego Padres (-1)
- Juan Soto was hitting .224 with a .740 OPS through 31 games with San Diego.
12. Milwaukee Brewers (+2)
- Matt Bush has six holds and two saves in 17 games traded to Milwaukee.
13. Cleveland Guardians (–)
- The Cleveland bullpen’s 2.34 ERA in the second half is the best in baseball.
14. Baltimore Orioles (-2)
- Lost six of eight and enter Monday 5 ½ games back in the AL wild-card race.
15. Chicago White Sox (+1)
- Makeup game at Cleveland on Thursday could play big role in deciding AL Central.
16. Minnesota Twins (-1)
- Reliever Griffin Jax has given up one earned run in his last 13 appearances.
17. Boston Red Sox (–)
- Boston is 19-40 against the AL East – and 49-32 against everyone else.
18. San Francisco Giants (–)
- Joey Bart is hitting .288 (36-for-125) with 7 homers and an .822 OPS in his last 43 games.
19. Arizona Diamondbacks (–)
- Zac Gallen’s 44⅓ scoreless inning streak comes to an end, breaking Brandon Webb’s club record.
20. Colorado Rockies (+4)
- Rockies head to Chicago this week for two vs. White Sox, three vs. Cubs
21. Texas Rangers (-1)
- Finally in the majors after injury derailed his season, top prospect Josh Jung homers in his first big-league at-bat
22. Los Angeles Angels (-1)
- Patrick Sandoval’s last four starts: 1.33 ERA, 25 strikeouts, 4 walks in 27 innings.
23. Miami Marlins (-1)
- Cy Young frontrunner Sandy Alcantara’s ERA has jumped from 1.92 to 2.43 in four starts.
24. Chicago Cubs (-1)
- Marcus Stroman has a 3.28 ERA in 17 starts since May 1.
25. Cincinnati Reds (+1)
26. Kansas City Royals (-1)
- Rookie Vinnie Pasquantino reinstated from the injured list.
27. Detroit Tigers (–)
- Eduardo Rodriguez has a 3.68 ERA in four starts after three months away.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates (+1)
- Starting a 10-game road trip on Monday in Cincinnati.
29. Oakland Athletics (-1)
- Ken Waldichuk looked good (3.60 ERA) in his first two big-league starts.
30. Washington Nationals (–)
- Anibal Sanchez has a 1.71 ERA in his last five starts.